The Politician series premiere recap: Pilot

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Are you ready for Ryan Murphy’s first Netflix series, The Politician?

The Politician premiered a couple of months ago but there’s still plenty to talk about considering it’s Ryan Murphy’s first official Netflix series to premiere since he signed the deal. The pilot episode is interesting, to say the least, but I have to say, I’m into it.

The series’ lead character, Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) has one ambition and goal in life–to become President. But given that he’s in high school, he has to start with becoming President of his school first. Payton is first introduced while he’s at his Harvard interview. You see, the type of student Payton is, he has everything planned down to every detail.

But when the interviewer asks him about extracurricular activities, Payton can’t think of any. He’s never thought about anything but becoming President, and it’s essentially been all he’s ever dreamt about. As a result, he later finds out that Harvard waitlisted him, and his disappointment is palpable.

If Payton really wanted he could have his family buy his way into Harvard, just like his brothers. But he doesn’t want because he wants to get in on his own merits. As it turns out, Payton was adopted by an incredibly wealthy family but only the mother seems to favor him.

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Running against Payton is the dreamy River (David Corenswet) who has everything going for him.  His charisma manages to woo everyone, something Payton doesn’t know how to do exactly. Furthermore, River’s girlfriend Astrid (Lucy Boynton) is Payton’s number one enemy who is singlehandedly carrying River’s campaign for President.

The Politician dives into an interesting storyline here as Astrid decides to pick a diverse candidate to run alongside River for VP. Once again Ryan Murphy strives to reflect on social commentary here and it’s something we’ve come to love about his shows.

With all the mess of the campaign, Payton goes to confront River about everything and things take a very disturbing turn. Not only does River confess that he’s in love with Payton, but then he proceeds to take his life right in front of him. Say what?!

A flashback to a year and a half prior helps us understand what the heck just happened and what Payton and River’s relationship was. It turns out Payton’s mother, Georgina (Gwyneth Paltrow), hired River as Payton’s tutor. One thing led to another and before they knew it, Payton and River shared a kiss.

Astrid, apparently, knew all about the kiss and even suggests that Payton come over for a threesome. She wants to be there for all of River’s desires, and if this is one of them, then so be it. Interesting, very interesting.


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During River’s memorial, Astrid takes the moment to announce that she will be running for President since River can no longer do so. Payton freaks out because the chances of him winning are getting less and less by the day, and he has no idea how he can compete with Astrid.

Thankfully, Payton’s girlfriend, Alice (Julia Schlaepfer) comes up with a plan to get him sympathy and hopefully, votes. She says they need to pretend to break up and say that Alice cheated on him. Meanwhile, Payton decides on a running mate in Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch), who has been ill with cancer.

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At first, Infinity is reluctant to say yes but her greedy grandmother (Jessica Lange) and Payton manage to convince her. Looks like Payton just might have a chance at this whole President thing after all. Well that is until he finds out that Infinity’s illness might be a ruse.

What did you think of this episode of The Politician? Share your comments below!